The first leg of MLS Cup quarterfinals proved promising for those dreaming of a Los Angeles-New York MLS Cup Final at BMO Field on November 21.
The two conference champions played their opening match away from home and were the most dominant in their respective games.
New York’s mastery over San Jose on Saturday night was particularly impressive. The Red Bulls could have run up the score to make it an embarrassing rout rather than the gentle on the eyes 1-0 drubbing they inflicted on the Quakes.
RELATED: San Jose 0-1 New York
Joel Lindpere scored the match winner but could have notched a hat-trick, while 17-year old U.S. U-20 star Juan Agudelo tormented the San Jose backline in the second half and was unlucky not to get his first goal for New York. The victory was accomplished without Thierry Henry at head coach Hans Backe's disposal. The Frenchman is said to be recovering from a knee strain and is likely being saved for more crucial dates in the future.
Los Angeles had some jitters at the start of their match against Seattle, but in the second half they adjusted to the Sounders' speed, sufficiently snuffing out any chance of Seattle matching Edson Buddle’s first half wonder goal that ultimately set the teams apart on the scoreboard.
RELATED: Seattle 0-1 Los Angeles
New York and Los Angeles now return home to close out each of their quarterfinal encounters. It would be courageous to bet against either side in the return fixture as they pave the path to the semifinals on way to Toronto.
The other postseason contests – Columbus v. Colorado in the east and Salt Lake v. Dallas in the west – have been more balanced.
Colorado started strongly against Columbus but the Crew deserved to equalize in the final 30 minutes. Although Colorado takes a 1-0 result in to Crew Stadium for this week’s second leg, Columbus has to be favoured to close the gap, which pains me greatly to admit as a Torontonian.
RELATED: Colorado 1-0 Columbus
RELATED: Dallas 2-1 Salt Lake
The Dallas-Salt Lake tilt was the most interesting of the four matches. The Texas side beat the defending MLS Cup Champion 2-1 at home in Frisco. The teams finished 10-aside but the biggest casualty for the return leg is the loss of Javier Morales to Salt Lake, ejected for catching Dax McCarty with a high boot in the second half.
New York and San Jose meet on Thursday. On Saturday Columbus-Colorado and Salt Lake-Dallas go at it, before Los Angeles closes out the weekend and the quarterfinals on Sunday night against Seattle.
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